Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bridesmaid dresses, part 3

A year ago, when we got engaged, I was pretty resigned to the fact that I wouldn't have a lot of girly shopping time with my friends or family. I'm in the midwest/south, everyone else is on the east coast, (um, not to mention my parents are living in Brussels now) and we are ALL super busy.

I was going to be super-accommodating about the bridesmaid dresses anyway, but I knew it would also help for me to have that mindset since we couldn't get everyone together for a big bridesmaid dress try-on session. I never even thought twice about it; I just told the girls to find a Mori Lee dress they liked in the color eggplant and to let me know when they had decided.

But then, I came to the east coast for two and a half months. And even then, I didn't really put it all together. But then, in the last week, I've been lucky enough to see all of my bridesmaids but one. SIX of them! And not only was there eating and drinking and chick flicks and general all-around fun, but we got to look at dresses also!

First, I got together for dinner last week with my two friends and bridesmaids from high school in Cranbury, NJ, and we ended up going to a local bridal salon just for fun. They didn't carry Mori Lee, but they carried lots of other designers, and nearly all of them had the color I'm looking for (side note: when I started looking for bridesmaid dresses a year ago, NO ONE had the color I was looking for. I was having a fashion-forward wedding. Now, EVERYONE has the color I'm looking for, and suddenly my choice of eggplant is the trendiest thing out there. Just remember: I chose eggplant before the designers did!). There were also lots of choices for green dresses, in case any of the girls want to wear green. While I was continually saying, "Whatever, I don't care" to my friends' questions (short or long? satin or chiffon? sleeveless or sleeves?), they made some decisions on their own.

So by majority opinion, we think short, tea-length dresses are better than long dresses, in order for everyone to have a similar level of formality.

Yesterday, I got together with my two friends and bridesmaids from college, in the Baltimore suburbs. One of the girls was down for the weekend from Pittsburgh, and it was total serendipity that we were both planning to be in Maryland the same weekend, because the three of us have tried hard to get together before, and we can never find a free weekend in common! My two sisters came up from our house in southern Maryland, and the five of us went to a bridal shop that did carry Mori Lee.

Our experience at the shop near Baltimore was OK, but not great. The salespeople, while nice, weren't very knowledgeable. They told me that certain dresses were available in certain colors, when I knew for a fact that they weren't, based on the catalog I picked up from another shop a few months ago. They had no idea what I was referring to, and seemed flummoxed by the fact that I knew so much, and even had a catalog ("Where did you get that?!?" -- in a confused/amazed, not antagonistic tone). It was disheartening. On top of that, they were the kind of shop that rips the tags out of their dresses, which I think is evil. I actually think it might be illegal, but we found our way around it -- first of all, while they ripped the tags out of the back of the dresses, many of the designers print their names on the straps used to hang the dress on the hanger, so it wasn't too hard to figure out. Plus, of course, just our luck, no pictures allowed.

Anyway, decisions were made by my two college bridesmaids and sisters as well. Yay! I like decisions, especially when they involve people picking out their own clothes!

Here is the dress sister #1 (the older of my two younger sisters) has picked out:

Bari Jay #756
, made of "Bella" chiffon, which comes in the perfect shade of eggplant.

Here is what sister #2 (the younger of my two younger sisters) has picked out:

After Six #6518, in Nu Georgette with matte satin trim. Both the trim and the dress can come in any color in those lines, which is pretty cool. My sister could get all purple, all green, or purple with another color trim, like cream, ivory, black, or even green to coordinate perfectly! (It will be up to her.) The only problem is that we aren't yet 100% sure whether the color "aubergine" or "bordeaux" is the one we're looking for -- I'll have to go back to a shop with swatches to see.

During the fitting room escapades, both of my college friend bridesmaids expressed concern that the softer fabrics like chiffon wouldn't be as forgiving for our late-twenties mid-sections, and I agree (about myself and my midsection! Not them and theirs!!), so they looked at satin dresses instead and found one they liked:

After Six #6513, in "Renaissance" satin. The picture shows it in eggplant, but I think it looks different on the computer screen than in real life. This morning I put in an order for a swatch of fabric ($15 for 2 6x6" swatches! The worst part is, I can't believe I actually paid for it...) to see if the color works. Of course, right after I placed the order was when my sister told me about her interest in the aubergine color in the nu georgette line, but I can't bear to place another fabric order. I'm planning to go to the extremely nice bridal shop in Louisville that I keep bothering and see if they will cut me a tiny snippet from their swatch card instead. I think they will. I find it very frustrating that different types of fabric come in different colors, although I understand (sort of) why. I just wish it could be a little easier, to accommodate the accommodating brides like me!

Surprisingly, some of the Mori Lee dresses that looked great on the models looked odd in real life. Actually, that's not very surprising at all, is it? For instance, both of these dresses were strong contenders from the website/catalog collection, but didn't fare so well on our real-life models:

These dresses were essentially the same from the bust down; the only difference was that #761 is strapless and #767 has spaghetti straps. The problem was that at the waist, the pleats were constructed in such a way as to make the skirt bubble up and out from the waist, instead of lying flat and creating a normal A-line skirt. Even on my sister, who has the body of a super model (seriously, I'd submit her for ANTM except she's not quite tall enough), it looked poufy and awkward and gave her an unflattering waistline. Kind of like this, only without being colonial and therefore at least kind of cool:

They also tried on this Mori Lee dress, which looks absolutely amazing and adorable, but it doesn't come in anywhere near the right colors. Darn.

Later, after we had left, one of my college bridesmaids remembered that she has a dark purple dress already, and wondered if it might be appropriate. She showed it to me last night, and I think it's perfect! We're just going to double-check the shade of purple once I get my swatch, but otherwise, she's good to go. How randomly perfect is that! She said she bought the dress a year or so ago on sale at Macy's. Even better than being able to wear a bridesmaid dress again in the future is being able to wear a dress you already have as a bridesmaid dress.

And as for my high school bridesmaids? Well, at the shop in NJ, they didn't cut the tags out of dresses, allowed us to take pictures, and might have made more of an effort to take down my information and enter me into their system (which I did not want), but were overcome by other walk-ins, so we were left to our own devices -- yay!

First up, seeing how eggplant and green look together:

I was being a horrible photographer that night, and my best friends' faces don't look that great, so I cropped them. It's totally my fault; I take full responsibility.

The purple dress on the left is Alfred Angelo #6904, in grape. The color is gorgeous, but the dress looks a little young for us. The green dress on the right is Jim Hjelm #JH5710T, in moss. Because of my flash, it looks a lot brighter than it does in real life. In real life, it's a gorgeous dark green, and looks pretty much exactly the same as it does here. I think the two colors look fabulous together.

Next up, we have two dresses in the same color, but in different fabrics. On the left, we have what I think is Jim Hjelm #JH5653T, in eggplant chiffon, and on the left we have Bill Levkoff #901 in eggplant satin. Again, I think the dresses look fabulous together, and any difference between the colors in satin and chiffon is barely noticeable. The Bill Levkoff dress is a floor-length one, while the Jim Hjelm is a tea-length, and this was the combo that sparked the decision to not mix lengths, because the girls felt the level of formality between the two was just too different.

Then, we played with different shades of purple:

On the right, the same possibly-Jim Hjelm dress in the "right" color, and on the left, a Jordan dress in plum -- I think it's Jordan #520, although the model is wearing the shoulder a little differently.

I was OK with the color combo at first, especially when you add in the possibility of a green to the mix, but for some reason, by the end of the night, we decided it would be easier to keep the purple color choice standard.

We also played around with different shades of green, but I didn't take any pictures. What we focused on was the Jim Hjelm moss color and the Alfred Angelo clover, which is a lighter green. Here is my ghetto photoshopped (actually, I used montage of my vision:

Clockwise from top left: Bill Levkoff satin eggplant; Jim Hjelm moss chiffon; Jim Hjelm eggplant chiffon; Alfred Angelo clover satin.

I think they all look pretty damn good together!

My high school bridesmaids didn't choose dress styles; we were getting hungry and wanted to go to dinner, so they'll keep looking on their own.

So that leaves one bridesmaid who I did not get to see this week -- my FSIL. She was actually the brains behind the idea of having the girls in two (or now three!) different colors. She was in a wedding today in Maine, and the bridesmaids all wore Jim Hjelm dresses in moss green. Jim Hjelm is actually a pretty pricey label, at least by my standards, so I wouldn't ask my bridesmaids to buy any of those dresses unless they really wanted to. At the same time, though, it would be nice if my FSIL could wear her dress again, since it would fit into our color scheme so well. Plus, she had to sink additional money into the dress to get it altered to fit her ever-expanding (due to pregnancy!) belly, so it seems like a waste to only get to wear it once. Of course, by the time our wedding rolls around, she will be 4 months post-partum, so we'll probably have to get the dress taken in again, but that will be OK. I actually haven't talked to her yet about all of this, but I know she reads this blog, so Paige: What do you want to wear?

This morning I sent an email to all of the girls with a summary of our decisions: tea-length or unformal floor-length gowns, in any of the following designers/colors:
-Mori Lee eggplant
-Jim Hjelm eggplant
-Bill Levkoff European eggplant
-Alfred Angelo grape
-After Six, Renaissance satin, eggplant
-Bari Jay, eggplant
-B2, bordeaux
-Da Vinci, aubergine
-After Six, Nu Georgette, aubergine (probably)
-Jim Hjelm moss
-Alfred Angelo clover
-Mori Lee patina, maybe

As long as no one is the odd person out, I'm happy to mix colors, styles, and fabrics.

Overall, I'm really happy I was able to go shopping with so many of my bridesmaids. They all thought it was productive, which makes me happy, and we're getting ever-closer to a decision! My goal is to order the dresses by Thanksgiving, which will give everyone plenty of time to get alterations if needed. I'm getting really excited about this and I can't wait to see what everyone's final decision is and how they will all look together!

What do you think about our color palette?


whenigrowupcoach said...

We have really similar colors, so I had to leave a comment. I got married on 9/14 and the colors were mango, raspberry and kiwi (my florist gets credit for the fruit theme). I asked the bridesbabes "Green or purple?" They picked purple. I then told them to get whatever knee-length purple dress they wanted and they revolted. I was then forced to pick a color and a designer, so I narrowed it down to a Dessy Collections dress (this includes Dessy, After 6, and Alfred Sung) in merlot. They all picked the dresses that they loved and it looked fabulous! I loved, too, that they were all comfortable and happy. I love your idea, though, of purple AND green - I wish my bridesbabes were a bit more indie, but that's OK. They're going to look great!

hwong14 said...

I keep saying green is an option, but I really don't know if it's going to happen. If they all wear purple, I'm perfectly OK with it, but I don't want to force anyone into anything, which is why I keep bringing up the green thing. Hopefully everyone will come to a decision soon! Congrats on your wedding -- the colors sound gorgeous! I'm reminded of the current postcard stamps, with the tropical fruit :)

Janice Lois said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

those are totally cute bridesmaid dresses! I love the first one, how annoying it’s not in all sizes. Good luck with the seamstress route, it doesn’t look like it would toooo complicated to make…

kennady said...

All the bridesmaid dress pictures are shared in this post was fantastic. The list of dress vendors is easily displayed in the free wedding planner iPhone app and using this, the engaged girls can save the wedding planning time.

Clark said...

That's interesting! Can you please share more about it? Thank you.

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